Waste Not Want Not volunteers rescue unmarketable, but still wholesome, food from supermarkets, restaurants, and other businesses daily. We have convinced stores and businesses within a 15-mile radius of Orange Park to donate food to us on or before its sell-by date rather than throw it away after that date. Every day, 363 days a year, our volunteers drive their own cars to these businesses, pick up the donated food, and bring it our facility. Currently we make 149 scheduled rescues a week, collecting an average of 4,750 pounds of food a day. In addition to our scheduled food rescue activities, Waste Not Want Not also seeks out special projects that further our mission. For example, in the past five years, Waste Not has rescued more than 200,000 pounds of undeliverable food items, primarily fancy foods and citrus sent as holiday gifts, from the US Postal Services’ bulk mail warehouse. We have distributed thousands of pounds of produce gleaned from farmers’s fields and neighbors’ trees. Our volunteers have even filleted, iced and transported fish donated after fishing tournaments.
Waste Not Want Not volunteers distribute the rescued food to local charities assisting the needy. By providing this rescued food to charities, Waste Not helps them maximize their limited financial resources. Emergency Food Programs (food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters whose primary mission is to provide food to people in a hunger crisis) can feed more people. Non-Emergency Food Programs (those whose primary purpose is to provide services other than food assistance, such as youth programs, client training, housing assistance, and residential facilities) are able to devote more funds to their core mission by reducing their food costs. Last year, Waste Not provided more than two million pounds of food to over 130 charities serving those in need in fifteen counties. The conservative cost avoidance (the amount they saved by not having to purchase that amount of food) enjoyed by these charities was more than $4,000,000.
Every week last year, an average of 15,000 people ate food rescued by Waste Not Want Not. One of these, a lady almost in tears, recently stopped a volunteer who was loading food behind a store. This is what she told him: “I saw the Waste Not magnet on your car, and I want to thank you. I recognized it from the stickers on the food I get from my church. I have three kids and no job right now, and without your food, I couldn’t feed my kids at the end of the month. God Bless you.”
To see Waste Not Want Not in action and our impact, watch our video here
In years since this video was made, Waste Not Want Not has grown to help even more people in need. We currently make 149 scheduled rescues and serve 78 groups each week. Our volunteers now use our boxtruck instead of their pickup trucks to make large rescues.